Humanae Vitae: The Conversion Value of NFP continued

The second reason why it is realistic to fear that parishioners will vote with their feet is the almost complete failure of parishes to teach the real content of Humanae Vitae and to provide the practical help of Natural Family Planning.  As a result, some think that no matter what they do, they will have ten children in a dozen years, and others think they will almost never be able to engage in the marriage act if they do not want more children.  This is a tremendously false picture, but it is fostered by the almost complete absence of relevant preaching and teaching at the parish level.

On the other hand, the wonderful reality is that the truths reaffirmed by Humanae Vitae and the practice of Natural Family Planning attract those who want to live the truth about love—and there are many such couples. Repeatedly couples have witnessed to the fact that the practice of natural family planning was the starting point of their journey to the Church or back to the Church. I am convinced that the practice of marital chastity opens the mind and heart to the fact that it is Christ Himself who continues to teach the demands of love in and through his Church.  In most cases, however, it is not just the periodic abstinence of NFP that has convinced couples; it is also the fact that they learned some of the reasons behind the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

In the early Eighties, I received a letter informing me that the writer, his wife and his family had entered the fullness of the Catholic Church.  He described himself as having been a fundamentalist married to a Baptist.  They had been practicing NFP because the wife did not want to use the Pill; he very reluctantly went along with this but only because he loved and respected his wife.  One evening as he was waiting for dinner, he picked up my organization’s newsletter and read something that rang true.  He remarked to his wife that there was a lot more to this NFP stuff than just mucus and temperatures; there were good reasons for it.  She answered that she had thought there were and had been waiting for him, the more philosophical of the duo, to explain them to her.  Then they figured that if the Catholic Church had it right on this one, they owed it to the Church to take a look at its other claims as well.  In due time and with the grace of God, he notified me of the family’s entrance into full communion with the Catholic Church.  Praise the Lord!

The names of Scott and Kimberly Hahn are well known in the Church today.  Back in their Protestant seminary days, they found something I had written about birth control and found it persuasive.  They accepted the universal Christian Tradition against unnatural forms of birth control, a Tradition taught almost exclusively by the Catholic Church today, and acted accordingly.  I believe that living this part of Catholic teaching gradually helped to open their hearts and minds to the fullness of the truth.

And the process continues.   I once read a comment from a couple applying to become teachers of natural family planning.  “Also, NFP has brought us, to a large degree, into the Catholic Church.”

Truth attracts and retains people of good will.  That’s why it is necessary to preach, teach and practice the truths affirmed by Humanae Vitae.
John F. Kippley
Sex and the Marriage Covenant

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